The daily grind of life can be taxing on your mind, body and soul. We know how crucial it is not to waste time doing unnecessary research when you only have one free weekend in who knows how long. That’s why we’ve gone and researched 25 awesome campgrounds within two hours of Chicago.
When you only have a weekend to get away from home, it’s critical to avoid wasting hours driving to your campground or RV park. Your valuable time should be spent relaxing and recovering in the great outdoors–not fighting traffic. So whether your choice is in a cabin, tent, or RV, we made sure to find many locations that will fulfill your desires for a weekend away.
You’ll find that the Chicago area of the Midwest offers great outdoor activities such as hiking and biking trails, fishing, and even horseback riding if that’s your thing. The southern shores of Lake Michigan, where the corners of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan converge, offer many opportunities to get outside and enjoy this unique area of the Midwest.
Wanna have some fun in the car? Here are our favorite road trip games:
Good ol’ Mad Libs.
Everyone loves Travel Bingo.
Games On The Go is pretty cool. It’s 50 games clipped to a little carabiner.
Camp Sullivan : Oak Forest, ILRight outside Chicago in the suburb of Oak Park, Camp Sullivan is a relatively new campground. It is ideal for large groups or families and has rentable bunkhouses so everyone can camp together. In addition, there are 15 primitive tent sites, 10 sites with RV hookups, and 8 small cabins available for rent. It is located in Tinley Creek Woods, 612 acres of beauty. Turtlehead and Arrowhead lakes are also nearby for all the water activities you could imagine. Camp Sullivan has an indoor rock climbing wall for those who are up for a challenge.
Illinois Beach State Park : Zion, ILIf sandy shores along Lake Michigan is more your thing, you definitely want to try out one of these 241 camping sites on your next weekend trip. Illinois Beach is 4,160 acres of ridge shoreline. The only one left in the state that still has natural dunes and swales, not to mention additional land with oak forests and a large swath of vegetation and animal life. Don’t feel like you’re limited to hiking and camping, because this park has SCUBA diving, swimming, geocaching, the Zion Bike Trail, and more! When planning a short weekend getaway, you might want to keep this gem front of mind.
LaSalle/Peru KOA: North Utica, ILA great getaway within two hours of Chicago. Weekend hayrides, candy bar bingo, creek fishing, pedal karts, wifi, and cable are just a few of the many amenities offered at LaSalle/Peru KOA. There are both sunny and shaded campsites for tents and full service 30amp and 50amp hookups for RVs. There are also cabins available for those that are interested. There are 13 miles of trails for hiking and biking at nearby Starved Rock State Park to keep you busy all afternoon. Peru Mall isn’t far either and offers excellent shopping and dining options.
Kankakee South KOA: Chebanse, ILAn hour south of Chicago, Kankakee South KOA is a quiet retreat for anyone looking to relax. This campground has a pool for swimming, a playground for the kids, and basketball and volleyball courts for a little friendly competition. Kankakee River State Park is just down the road and offers hiking, biking, fishing, and canoeing for those that want to spend their time in the scenic wilderness. We love this KOA because of the tall oaks that provide shade among the campsites. All sites are suitable for both tents and RVs and have 50amp hookups.
Starved Rock State Park: Oglesby, ILVoted as the number one attraction in the state of Illinois, this state park has 129 Class-A Premium campsites and is popular for its hikeable bluffs and canyons. The moss covered walls of the 18 canyons in the park were naturally formed by glacial meltwater into the sandstone and waterfalls can be seen at 14 of the 18 canyons. Along with all the campsites, there are 72 affluent hotel rooms in a newly added wing of the Lodge that was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Along with the 13 miles of well marked hiking trails, enjoy trolley tours, art in the park, and summer educational programs for the kids.
2668 East 873 Road
Oglesby, IL 61348
Click here to learn what Starved Rock has to offer tweet
Chicago Northwest KOA: Union, ILThis is a perfect place if you’re camping with kids. Chicago Northwest KOA has planned weekend activities for the kids including wagon rides, face painting, movie nights, flashlight candy hunts, and more. If you want to sightsee in downtown Chicago, the “Metra” train stops at nearby Crystal Lake and Woodstock and can bring you too and from the big city. This KOA has shaded tent sites, pull through RV sites, rustic cabins and fully equipped trailers for rent. Free wifi and a mini golf course are also available onsite.
8404 South Union Road
Union, IL 60180
Click here to discover camping at Chicago Northwest KOA tweet
Matthiessen State Park: North Utica, ILOriginally a 176 acre canyon and small stream, Matthiessen State Park has grown to 2000 acres filled with canyons, streams, prairies, and forests. The canyon is the main park attraction and was formed by water erosion – the minerals carried in the water contribute to the unique coloring of the canyon rocks. Matthiessen State Park also has a field archery range and a radio-controlled model airplane field for those that want to practice their hobbies. The park accommodates equestrian enthusiasts as well with many trails for riding.
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area: Morris, ILAnimal lovers will be in awe of the wildlife sightings here. Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area is about 65 miles from Chicago and is home to deer, coyote, red fox, cottontail rabbits, muskrat, badgers, and several endangered species. Archery is a unique recreational opportunity offered at this park, as well as other common activities including boating, fishing, and hiking. Campers cannot stay overnight at Goose Lake Prairie but it is a must-see day stop for picnicking and enjoying the great outdoors.
5010 N. Jugtown Rd.
Morris, IL 60450
Visit the Illinois DNR page to learn more about this area tweet
Gebhard Woods State Park: Morris, ILThis small 30-acre park is one of Illinois’ most popular state parks. Gebhard Woods State Park is a little over an hour from downtown Chicago and the definition of picturesque perfection. It is bordered by the Illinois and Michigan Canal to the south and Nettle Creek on the north side, making it an awesome spot for fishing. This park is only suited for primitive tent camping and has no vehicle access. Each site comes with a fire ring, picnic table, and grill, and drinking water and pit toilets are located nearby.
Chain O’ Lakes State Park: Spring Grove, ILIf you’re a water lover, Chain O’Lakes State Park is calling your name. It is located in the heart of Illinois’ largest concentration of lakes, just an hour and a half north of the Chicago area. This park is made up of seven lakes, seven picnic areas, four trail systems, and 230 campsites. As you can probably imagine, fishing, swimming, boating, waterskiing, and kayaking are only a few of the popular water-oriented activities offered at Chain O’Lakes State Park. Each campsite accommodates both tents and RVs with hookup services. There are also three cabins available for rent.
Channahon State Park : Channahon, IL“Channahon” is the Indian word for “the meeting of waters”, which fits this state park quite well as it is the joining point of the DuPage, Des Plaines, and Kankakee rivers. Anglars love Channahon State Park and often catch a variety of bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and bullheads. The tall trees among the grounds provide a shaded setting perfect for volleyball, soccer, frisbee or baseball. Primitive tent camping is allowed in this park and each site is equipped with a grill, fire ring, and picnic table. Stop by the information center for a camping permit before setting up camp.
White Pines Forest State Park : Mt. Morris, ILA prime location for a weekend family trip. The two hour drive from Chicago will be worth it once you enter the park grounds – the concrete fords that line the creeks allow you to literally drive through the flowing streams on your way in. If you’re more interested in glamping than camping, White Pines Forest State Park has 16 cabins available for rent that include a shower, gas log fireplace, air conditioning and heat, and a TV. If you’d rather stay outside, there are 117 campsites for tents and RVs with hookups.
Kankakee River State Park : Bourbonnais, ILAnglers, hunters, campers, hikers, canoeists, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts will love Kankakee River State Park. The park stretches along the Kankakee River for 11 miles and is home to beautiful wildlife. There are two different campgrounds (closed for the 2016 season for updating) with a total of over 200 sites, some with electricity, electricity and showers, and others with neither for a primitive camping experience. There are also two cabins available for rent and a campground for those traveling with horses.
5314 W. Rt. 102
Bourbonnais, IL 60914
Click here to learn more about Kankakee River State Park tweet
Lowden State Park : Oregon, ILLowden State Park has a lot to offer. Located two hours west of Chicago, this park is situated on a bluff that overlooks the Rock River. It is home to the Black Hawk Statue – a 50-ft wonder that is considered the second tallest monolithic statue in the world. Hiking on the four miles of trails, boating, and fishing are popular river activities, however swimming is not permitted. Lowden State Park has 80 Class A campsites that include electricity hookups and nearby showers. There are also 38 sites with shower-only access and 8 sites for primitive tent camping.
Thomas Woods Campground : Marengo, ILThis area was created over 24,000 years ago by the Wisconsin glacier. Only an hour from Chicago, Marengo Ridge is one of McHenry County’s most treasured areas. The ridge is made up of rocks, sand, gravel, and other sediments that were pushed ahead of the ice sheet and left behind when it melted. The ridge sits at 1,050 feet above sea level and offers breath-taking views of the woodlands below. There are non-electric sites for both tents and RVs at Thomas Woods campground, as well as RV only sites with electric hookups. Your dog is welcome on the grounds too!
Marengo, IL 60152
Tent & RV: $12-$18
RV Only: $22-$33
Learn more about Thomas Woods Campground at Marengo Ridge tweet
Emerald Trails Campground : Crete, ILOnly thirty minutes from Chicago but gives off the feeling that you are totally secluded from the big city. Emerald Trails Campground is located on Lake Jewel and allows for a multitude of water activities.If you’d prefer to stay dry, the campground also offers various nature trails, a playground, pool tables, and a basketball court. There are 140 sites scattered across the grounds, varying from primitive tent sites to full RV hookup sites. Emerald Trails has bathrooms, full showers, and a laundry facility as well to keep you feeling fresh.
Fish Lake Beach Camping Resort : Volo, ILFish Lake Beach Camping Resort can accommodate any camper’s style. From tent sites near the lake, to full hookup RV sites, to rentable park models, this campground has it all. Camping at Fish Lake Beach includes full access to the beach, pool, playground, amenities, and scheduled activities. Some of the activities include a bean bag toss tournament, kids crafts, family bingo, a camper flea market, country hoe down night, and more. Don’t forget to call ahead and make a reservation!
Sycamore RV Resort: Sycamore, ILA great place to enjoy a quiet, relaxing camping experience. Sycamore RV Resort is only an hour and a half from downtown Chicago. This lakeside campground offers a beach for swimming, fishing, boat rentals, tennis courts, and many other camping amenities. There is also a campground store with live bait for fishing, a laundry facility, and restrooms with showers. Each campsite has a full hookup option and comes equipped with a picnic table and fire ring.
Lehman’s Lakeside RV Resort: Marengo, ILA perfect way to escape the city chaos without even leaving town. Lehman’s Lakeside RV Resort is nestled between Chicago and Rockford, Illinois, right off Interstate I-90. Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, this campground offers plenty of recreational water opportunities including fishing, swimming, paddleboating, and beach volleyball. Free wifi, cable TV, storage, and a laundry facility are also available on the grounds. Most campsites have a lakeview and have full hookups with 30amp and 50amp service. Lehman’s Lakeside RV Resort is open year-round too!
Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp Resort: Newark, ILYogi Bear’s resorts are scattered all over the United States and focus on giving young kids fun filled camping memories. Located less than an hour and a half west of Chicago, this resort features everything imaginable; golf, fishing, horseback riding, a heated outdoor swimming pool, a playground and outdoor amphitheater for live events. With over 400 campsites, ranging from primitive to full hookups, and 13 cabins also for rent, you’re sure to find the campsite that is best for you.
MICHIGAN & INDIANA
Warren Dunes State Park: Sawyer, MISituated on 2,000 acres, Warren Dunes State Park rises 260 feet above Lake Michigan and offers breath-taking views from all angles. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, this spot is awesome for hang gliding. There are two different campgrounds throughout the park, one with full RV hookups and the other designated for more primitive camping. In addition, there is a group day use area and 6 miles of hiking trails to take you throughout the grounds. This park is open year-road and offers winter recreational activities too.
Van Buren State Park: South Haven, MIAnother park on the shores of Lake Michigan and a favorite within two hours of Chicago. Van Buren State Park has 220 campsites that aren’t too far from the lake. Each site has electric hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring for your camp cooking. Updated restroom buildings are dispersed throughout the grounds as well. Popular activities at this park include swimming, boating, hiking, biking, and searching for treasure with metal detectors on the beach. Cross country skiing and snowmobiling are allowed if you venture here in the winter.
Fullers Resort and Campground: Buchanan, MIJust an hour and thirty minutes from Chicago in southwest Michigan, Fullers Resort and Campground is inviting to all. It is located on Clear Lake and has 400 feet of sandy beach to swim, kayak, canoe, fish, boat, and more. There is also a playground onsite for the kids. Fullers Resort and Campground has a camping spot to fit your every style, whether you would like to stay in a cabin, cottage, RV, or tent. Some sites have full service hookups while others are primitive for those who want a traditional camping experience.
Potato Creek State Park: North Liberty, INPotato Creek State Park is located in North Liberty, Indiana, just a little over an hour and a half from Chicago. Open year-round, this park has a variety of different habitats including a lake, woodlands, prairies, and wetlands for many outdoor activities. There are also plenty of hiking and biking trails for scenic nature viewing. Potato Creek State Park has 287 electric hookup sites as well as 70 sites that accommodate those traveling with horses. To enjoy all of the facilities at the park it is suggested that you make a reservation beforehand.
Indiana Dunes State Park: Chesterton, INA perfect weekend getaway to relieve your stress. Indiana Dunes State Park is comprised of over three miles of shoreline on the south end of Lake Michigan. The large sand dunes located beyond the shore rise almost 200 feet above the lake and offer awesome views if you can climb your way to the top. This park also offers Sunset Beach Yoga quite often – a relaxing way to unwind from your day. Indiana Dunes State Park has 147 sites that accommodate both tents and RVs with 50amp full hookups. Don’t forget to bring your pet because they are welcome too!